DEEP THOUGHTS XXII: LOSING SUCKS

There’s been a lot of lively debate about the right way for the Edmonton Oilers to go about pulling off a proper rebuild, and the opinions are as diverse as the people you talk to — except when it comes to the players.

Fans, media and fartcatchers alike have different takes on the best way to go about the business of setting the Oilers straight after four years out of the playoffs. There’s the "You’ve got to stink to high heaven and be a lottery team" crowd. Some people talk about "The "Chicago model" and the "Pittsburgh model," like those teams somehow mastered the art of losing as opposed to getting lucky and blah, blah, blah.

Then, there’s the Oilersnation derivation of "Exciting Last Place Hockey." It’s a bit of fudging where fans get the best of both worlds — a competitive team that comes up just short most nights and slides into the lottery with a combined 59 overtime and shootout losses.

It all makes for interesting fodder on websites like this one, but there’s not a helluva lot of debate about the merits of such things like losing or finishing 19th as opposed to 27th as part of a rebuilding plan within the walls of the Oilers dressing room.

Another Taylor Hall on the way in 2011? What does the Taylor Hall the Oilers have now think about the concept?

ANYTHING EXCITING ABOUT LAST PLACE?

A bunch of us talked to Hall, Edmonton’s reward for finishing 30th last season, this morning and we asked him about what he sees as the best route to a "proper rebuild."

"If we could get really close," Hall said, talking about the possibility of the Oilers finishing in the playoffs, "if we could have a really good stretch just like we’ve been doing, that would be a great opportunity for us.

"We all want to win. Losing sucks. The guys in here who did it last year, they don’t want to do it again. Nobody does, and Tom (Renney) isn’t going to let that happen. That’s pretty much our reasoning in here."

Players want to win. That’s not stop-the presses stuff (although I’m often surprised by how many fans actually believe players set out to lose when they take the ice as part of a master plan).

Hall obviously understands the potential merits of teams playing like ripe Limburger cheese for seasons on end. He’s a prime example, after all. He sees more value in success, even limited success, as part of the learning curve, like making the playoffs — even if it’s one-and-done in the first round — which doesn’t jibe with being a lottery team.

GETTNG A TASTE

"You see teams that are young and just squeak into the playoffs," Hall said. "What they do next year, you look at their records, they do a lot better just because they get a taste for it.

"They know what it’s like early in their careers. It just gives them a little bit of a head-start. Like I said, that’s what we’re thinking in here. We’re not thinking about a rebuild. We want to be as good as we can as quick as we can."

I guess it depends on what your definition of "as quick as we can" is. Do the Oilers have enough young talent on the roster and in the system now to contend next season or the season after without a lottery pick in the next two summers, assuming they fill some obvious holes via free agency or trades?

Do fans who support the slow-and-steady mode have the patience to see this team out of the playoffs for six or seven straight years? If the Oilers are within hailing distance, say, six or eight points, of a playoff spot at the deadline, will you clamour for a trade or two to get the team over the hump this spring?

Is there really a tried-and-true timeline for a rebuild, or is it a moving target based on personnel and the development pace, or lack of same, of young prospects like Hall?

Is there really a model or template?

WHILE I’M AT IT

— So, we’ll finally see what all the fuss, including a petition, over the Oilers adding some jiggle to their game night presentation was about against the Maple Leafs Tuesday. The cheer team, made up of 19 young women aged 18-29, will strut its stuff live at Rexall Place after six weeks of tryouts and workouts. Will we hear anything more from Lisi Monro, the oh-so-concerned young lady who started the petition? Any placards (fat chance they’ll get past the gate) or protests tonight? A show of flannel, perhaps?

— If you wanted a glimpse of the yesterday’s news mentality in the sports journalism business, it was on display in the dressing room today. While everybody with a microphone or a notepad was swarming players with questions about the hideous third periods in the last two games, Linus Omark sat quietly in his stall without anybody near him. Quite a contrast considering Omark was the flavour of the day after Friday’s shootout spin-o-rama against Tampa Bay. Then again, the fact the Swede is a brutal interview might have something to do with it.

AND

— Expect to see tough guys Steve MacIntyre and Zack Stortini back in the line-up against the Maple Leafs.

— If Jim Vandermeer can’t play because of the ankle injury he sustained in the first period against Vancouver, and it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to go, expect Renney to dust off Jason Strudwick and put him in.

— By the way, the petition started by Monro had 1,509 signatures on it when it was presented to team president Patrick LaForge. I wonder how many of those people are season ticket holders?

— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Crackenbury

    Oilers staff appeal to the NHL statistician to raise their shot total to 12 instead of 11. Nice to see they have their priorities straight.

    Sheldon Souray was set to be my favorite Oiler in a long time. Unfortunately his ego grew larger than his talent. Talking about him is pointless. He’s done for good in this league, although I hear he was doing a little ass-kissing when the team was in Montreal.

  • Winnie Cooper

    Having Souray back in the dressing room would be like throwing the best New Years Eve party ever and inviting your ex.
    You can try all you want to compensate with good food and abundant booze, but you’d still be looking over your shoulder the whole night waiting for your TV to get smashed in with a bat.

  • book¡e

    Can Oilers Nation please put together a special Website to run a petition to submit to the Oilers to have tiny oiler flags on toothpics for all foods served in the concession stands. I am betting we can get over 2000 signatures in a day.

    Maybe it should be for flames logoed toilet paper in the stalls?

    Other suggestions?

  • Milli

    Win, win now if possible. Anyone watching this team develop knows that there is zero chance we finish bottom 5, at the same time, it will take a minor miracle to make the playoffs in the 3 point era. But, if they are within 4 or 5 points and playing great, take a shot. Don’t do anyhting to sacrifice the future, but if possible, take a shot. The only thing I’d add is, if the price is high to outrageous, walk away and stick with what got us there. How many times are those deals disasters?

    • book¡e

      Zero chance of finishing in the bottom five?

      Outside of falling below the truly hopeless Islanders and Devils, how are the Oilers locks to avoid the bottom five?

      They’ve got a minimum of seven more games without Hemsky and 20 more without Horcoff. They’ve got 16 points from Hall, 19 from Eberle and 21 from Whitney. You think that trio will improve on its points rates? Will Ryan Jones be a 20-goal scorer? Where is this surge out of bottom-five contention going to come from? I don’t see it.

      Automatic lottery team? No. Zero chance of being one? Think again.

      • Milli

        I think every game Hall plays he takes more control. I think Eberle will continue to grow and develop. I think Gagner is going to continue to have a great year. I think the teams in the east are WEAK. I think the flames will continue to falter. I think that as of today, there are very few points seperating 8 from 15th. I think that the Oilers game will continue to improve and when Hemmer and horc come back they will be that much better. And I’ll wager a 6 pack on it!!!!!!

  • Ducey

    Imagine if we had an impact player like Sheldon Souray in the line up, we’d probably be 8 games above .500 by now. If only Tambellini and Souray dealt with this like professionals, things could be very different now.

    Yeah, imagine if Souray would have been on the roster last year. Oh, wait…

    If anything, Souray’s pouting, constant injuries, and general ambivalence to playing hard would put the Oil closer to 30th. Let me fix your statement for you:

    Imagine if we had an impact player like Sheldon Souray in the line up, we’d probably be 8 games BELOW .500 by now.

  • Ender

    Souray is done..
    Everyone knows it but Quicksilver.

    Sneak him past waivers??

    You could parade that clown down the damn street and into rexall and nobody is gonna take him.

  • Horcsky

    The mentality from Tambo I’d like to see is one where he completely ignores where the team is in the standings. Whether we’re 8th, 10th, or last in conference, make moves with an eye towards next year and beyond, and don’t deal just for the hell of it.

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    What would the Pittsburgh model be? Get a bunch of lottery picks and don’t knock most of them out of the park. (Fleury, Staal) Then hope the league gives you a generational talent so your franchise doesn’t fold?

    As for the Oilers I’d rather see them winning. Winning has a way of healing all wounds and I feel for guys like Gagner that have only known terrible Oilers hockey.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Imagine if we had an impact player like Sheldon Souray in the line up, we’d probably be 8 games above .500 by now. If only Tambellini and Souray dealt with this like professionals, things could be very different now.

    Slip Souray through re-entries 25 hrs before the Christmas roster freeze starts, maybe catch the interested parties off gaurd. Hard to believe a playoff spot is within reach, if it continues into January and Febuary this could force the Oilers to re evaluate things. Exporting Hemsky and or Penner etc would go along way to seeing this won’t happen.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      unlike Ender, i am going to try and be a dink, try and stay with me.

      and you honestly suggesting that NHL teams will be caught “off gaurd” if souray goes on the re-entry waiver wire just before the roster freeze? really? with this here interweb and that there twitter, you dont think work might spread to a team or 20? “Gosh guys, it is only a day before the christmas break, Blackberries off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      And, going off Sourays stretch with the Oilers, the Oilers would probably be in about the same spot in the standings WITH Souray, because Souray would have missed 60% of the games with a –insert injury here–

      be better

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I hear where you’re coming from but there’s alot of work to be done on a move like that, you have to punt someone off your roster to make room before bringing in someone, cap issues that may prompt even further moves etc etc etc.

        I couldn’t give a rats arse about Sheldon Souray but why the need to step on and squish him like dog ship under your shoe, the guy made a mistake, give him another chance just like we’d hope we’d all get if we had made a mistake.

        We can point fingers and say that he said this and he said that but if the Oilers look in the mirror can they say they conducted themselves any better than he has?

        …any better sir?

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          “I couldn’t give a rats arse about Sheldon Souray”

          I’ve got a hard time beliving that considering you’ve brought him up what? 70 – 80 times? Over the last couple of weeks?

          I’d say not only that do you indeed “give a rats arse” about him, but you’ve got an unhealthy obsession with him.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          i would agree 100% that the blame isnt all on souray. Tambellini and the crew for sure take some of the heat for this mess as well.

          However, after what Souray said, i dont at all fault the Oilers for not bringing him back. With the constant talk of a culture change, why would you bring back a guy who publicly blasted parts of the organization, on top of the internal drama he (and others) caused (apparently)behind the scenes last year?

          Dont get me wrong, Souray the player would be the type of player this team could use. Souray the total package, however, is something this team needed to distance itself from.

          If this was a 1 time mistake on Sourays part (the spector interview) i believe the Oilers and Souray could have patched things up. It is my opinion, that there was a significant build up behind the scenes, and Sourays spouting off in the media was the breaking point.

          If it was me, for example, and i bitched about XYZ over and over and over, then after a horrid year at work i blasted parts of the organization publically and got myself essentially fired, would i expect a second chance? no, probably not

    • Milli

      wow! i want some of what your on Q …i know! maybe Santa could bring Sheldon down the chimney… in the big bag!! maybe it could happen at your place, get steve to deck the halls with bows of holly too!
      Slip Souray where? catch parties off guard?

      it’s strange to hear you so scattered, u ok?

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I’m fine pelhem, thanks for asking.

        I’m just rattling some cages, ruffling some feathers, this is the only place you can come to get beat on and not need medical attention. Always tried to look at things from a less common perspective.

        Happy Holidays sir.

    • Ender

      You know, I try not to be a dink on here but you need to give the Souray thing a rest. Did you sleep with him in a past life or something?

      The guy has one goal and six assists in 14 games. His team gift-wrapped his plus-three in a single 7-1 blowout and he’s only collectively been even in the other 13 games. Reviewing all his stats, he’s not even in the top pairing on his AHL team. Souray is now officially the Souray-of-Christmas-Past. He’s not coming back, and thank heaven for that. Get over him.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Phone your buddy Tambellini and have him give the guy his dignity back then, embarrassing him like we have serves no real purpose. Making him pay, teaching him a lesson is bullship. Let the man make the best of the time he has left in the game. Put him on re entries, put him back in the Oiler dressing room contributing like he can or send him on his way. This has been an embarrassment from the very beginning, no matter what the circumstances.

        • NastyNate

          The guy threw his dignity out the window last spring when he trash talked upper management. Since hockey has guranteed contracts you can’t “fire” anybody, but doing what the oilers did is the closest thing. Let him rot, might bring some humilty to help deflate his oversized ego. Souray is dead weight that nobody has wanted for 9 months

          • Quicksilver ballet

            It took alot of courage to show up in town here in September with the intentions of coming to camp, if that isn’t an olive branch, i don’t know what is. Oilers should’ve taken the high road and nipped this in the bud. Both parties lacked leadership here.

          • It took no courage at all. His agent had already been told that Sheldon wasn’t wanted (but they were apparently waiting for written confirmation). They knew which way the wind was blowing and showing up here saying all of the right things before training camp was PR all the way. Bad PR but Sheldon knows no other kind.

            Shelly can rot in Hershey for all I care.

          • NastyNate

            Souray showed up here in September as a PR stunt trying to save face and get a shot with another NHL team. Behind that slicked back hair is the same arrogant, overpaid, passed his prime, injury prone defenceman, with a cannon for a shot. The only thing i miss about him was ability to step up and defend his team mates. I do not miss his bad penalties and poor defensive play at all

  • Mikey "miraclehands" - Team FIST

    Considering we have like 6 first rounders from the last 5 years playing on our roster this year you wouldn’t think we would be so hurting for another top 5 pick but clearly after last nights stinkfest,there are plenty of spots to be filled. If we somehow get into the playoff picture come trade deadline there is no way you can deal for the future and tank it….you gotta make that run to the postseason. Saying that tho right now there is only 3 points separating 3rd spot and 12th so it could be a good year for selling at the deadline,if this pace stays the same there could be alot of buyers.

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    All this talk about the Pittsburgh or the Chicago model….I’d prefer the Boston model. Make the playoffs, screw the hell out of some bottom-feeding GM, then draft top 5 and again around 20ish. Pretty sure Garth doesnt always have his head on straight!

    Besides, correct me if I’m wrong but didnt every team have a chance at Sid due to lockout? If so how do you model that rebuild – Luck?

  • SumOil

    “You see teams that are young and just squeak into the playoffs,” Hall said. “What they do next year, you look at their records, they do a lot better just because they get a taste for it.”

    Talk about Atlanta, Columbus. Just because Col went to the playoffs after a pretty nasty season without much of a roster change, doesnt mean that all teams can do it. Players never want to lose, but then again losing and winning has to more to do than just players. You need quality players and competent management to do that

  • Ender

    If the impossible happens and enough teams start to fail more than the Oilers to allow sniffing distance of a playoff spot (say, 10th in the conference, 3 points out of a spot coming up on the trade deadline), the debate on here would be interesting; do the coaches pull a creative tank-job and risk player development and wrath in the hopes of getting a better player for next year in the draft (maybe hoping to fall to 12th or 13th in the West) or do they spend whatever’s left in the Cap-Kitty on mercenaries and try and buy a round of playoffs for the three Young Guns at the expense of a quality first-rounder next season?

    Personally, I’d make the push. Another star like Larsson next year would be nice, but I’d argue that teaching the guys we’ve already got not to accept failure would end up being just as valuable. We’ll get someone in the first round; it just may not be the brand-name center we’ve been salivating over. Besides, as Gregor has already pointed out, we’re on the way out of the race for anyone in the top-five anyway. Couturier is already a pipe dream.

    The big caveat here, though, is that if we do push for the playoffs it cannot be at the cost of future assets. Trade an older piece or two that isn’t part of the Master Plan if you must, but the picks and prospects need to stay in the system.

  • Ducey

    Do the Oilers have enough young talent on the roster and in the system now to contend next season or the season after without a lottery pick in the next two summers, assuming they fill some obvious holes via free agency or trades?

    No way! Their top 6 going forward is obviously going to include Hall, Eberle, MPS, Gagner, and at least one of Penner/ Hemsky. They have a great 2nd/ 3rd line center in Horcoff.

    On D they have Gilbert, Whitney and Peckham (a 3rd pairing guy on a good team).

    They have DD in goal.

    Other than that the cupboard is pretty bare.

    Sure they have lots of prospects including Omark, but they will break your heart (at least 1/2 won’t cut it) and are a year or two away from getting their feet wet.

    They need a #1 BIG centre, a stud D man and about three guys from the Cal Clutterbuck/ Ryan Kesler tree.

    Give MBS another advantage over most of his competitors (ie high picks), and he won’t disappoint.

    We have already gotten too excited about a bunch of prospects recently (remember Nilsson, Gagner and Cogs?) to go out and start grabbing free agents and “going for it”.

    Once Hall, Eberle and the rest start really dominating (2-3 yrs?) then we can start adding experienced pieces.

    Slow and steady will win this race.

    • Milli

      Right on Durango!

      You said it better than I could have. As tempting as it is to seek immediate gratification, the fact of the matter is that all the pieces are not yet there. (And NOT available via the trade route.)

      We desperately need one more top 3 draft, hopefully as first again but I don’t believe anyone will out-do the Islanders. The only way we get a stud center is by drafting one, the trade market is out of the question. The only way we get a stud defenceman is via the draft route, although I confess one MIGHT become available via trade; it depends upon how well our cupboard is stocked as to whether obtaining one makes any sense.

      The 13-14 season is the first we’ll actually have a chance, perhaps much like the 83 version which lost 4 straight to Potvin and the boys. In 14-15, barring bad luck and injury, we’ll have a real shot, and IF we’re able to keep the team together, (the anti-Chicago rule,)we just may well go on a run. .

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Clamour, trades…. this spring?

    I sure hope we’re talking exporting here. Can’t imagine pulling down the white (rebuild) flag just 8 months after it started.

    Anyone else see the media version of The Wave they had going halfway through the third period on Friday, i thought the catwalk was going to come down the third time through….those guys are as much a fan of this game as we are.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Please oiler fans make more noise than Leafs.
    We have a potential superstar in Hall all we need is a center with size.Lets go close losing hockey.

  • The poster says it all. The game last night was a joke, no one put in the effort even if all the effort they had wasn’t going to be enough.

    How we don’t dress Stors or Mac against Van puzzles me. JF still doesn’t get it… so it’s about time he get’s hurt and we sign him to another 1 year contract just to make sure we’ve “seen him good”